National Visual Arts Gallery, Balai Seni Visual Negara

Balai_Seni_Lukis_Negara national art malaysia

The National Visual Arts Gallery has undergone various changes in the past decade. Besides having a name change, it has grown in its effort in representing Malaysian art to the world.

National Art space and advocate

Tha Natioanl Visual Arts Gallery or Balai Seni Visual Negara (often referred to as Balai in short), is the official Malaysia’s art venue. This is the place for exhibitions and art-related workshops are held.

A prominent art space

With such a large space spanning out several floors, the National Visual Arts Gallery holds many shows throughout the year. Located along Jalan Tun Razak, it has a prominent address which is convenient among some of the top tourists spots in the Klang Valley.

Exhibitions and shows are held all the time. Apart from that, it is responsible in bringing Malaysian art to the general public through related activities. This includes events like art exchange programmes, residency and seminars, among others.

Besides that, the National Visual Arts Gallery is imperative in ensuring and promoting Malaysian art through education, policy making while being the host of some of the top art competitions in the region. This is done through partnerships and other collaborations.

The National Visual Arts Gallery, or Balai Seni Visual Negara has undergone various changes in the past decade. Besides having a name change, it has grown in its effort in representing Malaysian art to the world, hosting some of the most exciting exhibitions by artists around the region.

Official Arts Centre

Often referred to just ‘Balai’ in short by local artists, the official art venue houses all types of art-related activities and programmes. Within the unique looking building are several exhibition halls that span across several floors. It is located along Jalan Tun Razak with a prominent address which is convenient among some of the top tourists spots in the Klang Valley.

Heritage and History

Balai (NVAG) has been around for more than half a century now. It came about through the idea put forth by the then Malaya Arts Council around 1954. Tan Sri Mubin Sheppard and Frank Sullivan were the prominent figures responsible for bringing this idea to reality.

When it started, the gallery was held in Jalan Ampang which was then officiated by the first Malaysian Prime Minister YTM Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj. In 1978 meanwhile, it was known as the Muzium Seni Negara or National Arts Museum.

It was in 1998 when it moved to Jalan Temerloh, off Jalan Tun Razak which would be its current landmark. It was known as the National Art Gallery or Balai Seni Lukis Negara which would then be officiated by YAB Dato Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the prime minister at that time.

The gallery then changed its name to National Visual Arts Gallery in 2011 after the launch of the National Visual Arts Development Board Act 2011.

Crucial Development Role

Under the act, the NVAG increased its responsibilities besides hosting and promoting art. It plays a critical role in the development of the national visual arts industry of Malaysia. This is done through programmes and initiatives where necessary while required assistance will be provided as well.

Apart from conventional visual arts, NVAG’s involvement transcends further to other art forms such as multimedia, photography and such. It now operates through a wider network that spans across the entire nation and not just in Kuala Lumpur (as stipulated in the previous jurisdiction).

Innovation and Creativity

The outside part of the National Visual Arts Gallery building exudes the architecture that adopts the Malay motifs. Within the interiors, one will notice the Guggenheim museum styles with its spiralling movements.

This is where some of the top and most celebrated Malaysian artists have had their works shown including the likes of Wong Hoi Cheong, Khalil Ibrahim and Zulkifli Moh’d Dohalan, to name a few.

Exhibition and education

Exhibitions and shows are held all the time at the few galleries operating inside the NVAB. The NVAB is responsible for bringing Malaysian art to the general public through seminars, art talks, workshops and fairs. To help in growing the Malaysian art scene, NVAB organizes and collaborates with related parties that includes events such as art exchange programmes and artist residencies, among others.

Besides that, the National Visual Arts Gallery is imperative in ensuring and promoting Malaysian art through education, policy making while being the host of some of the top art competitions in the region, offering the platform for both established and emerging artists the avenue to showcase their bodies of work.

Operating hours

Today, the National Visual Art Gallery is the home of many exhibitions and has a permanent collection of art works from renowned and developing Malaysian artists. It is opened everyday from 10am to 6pm while on the fasting month, operation hours start from 9am to 5pm.

National Visual Arts Gallery promotes graffiti art with 60 meter wall

Some 29 young artists were recently invited to ‘redecorate’ a wall at the National Visual Arts Gallery (NVAG). This was seen as a truly unique move by NVAG as it is not often that the national body of art would embark into something as unconventional as this which was street art or more fondly known as graffiti.
As part of its efforts to promote and support emerging and more contemporary art among the local art scene a programme was drawn and held for the 29 young artists to strut their stuff onto the 60 meter wall outside the building which would run through 2 days and did they deliver through rain or shine.

The artists who are involved in the project were Adam Jamal, Ajim, Amirfaiz, Anisha, Anokayer, Bibichun, Damis, Donald, Escape, Ishak, Joanne, Jojo, Khairi, Mahsun, Manje, Medea, Mohd Azizi, Mohd Zaki, Mun, Noyz, Orkibal, Pakery, Paul, Raduan, Rash, Reeze, Sham, Snozze and Yumz where they contributed in their own creative way that included contemporary and traditional techniques respectively.

The artists should be commended for their determination and effort to ensure the success of the project after heavy rain came down on both days and despite causing them much hardship and obstacles, they pressed on and the finished mural became one of the most remarkable piece of collaborative art work one would have ever seen.

According Datuk Mohd Yusof Ahmad, despite being often associated with vandalism, graffiti art has in recent years grown to become quite a strong art movement itself and in Malaysia, it is gradually gaining popularity and attention of art lovers. It is also recognized and accepted as a genre in art together with the likes of other movements and techniques. Programmes like these would surely dispel the negative perceptions people have about graffiti art and the NVAG now stands testimony

Upgraded their security system

The art loving Malaysian public and enthusiasts can rest assure that the RM65million worth of art collection at the National Visual Arts Gallery in Kuala Lumpur are well preserved and taken care of. This is because according to the gallery, they have already upgraded its security features at the building that keeps the Permanent Collection which was reportedly at risk of being damaged.

The Gallery (BSVN) is the main centre for development and promoting of Malaysian visual arts came under fire after it was reported by the Auditor-General’s 2011 report that security features in the gallery have been very poor while they are still using water based fire extinguisher systems. Since then, various quarters have raised their point of concern that this heritage might be loss forever should any unwanted incidences happen to the place or to the collection.

Datuk Mohd Yusof Ahmad, the director-general of BSVN said that the old CCTVs have been replaced with night vision high dimension ones and that there are now 11 CCTVS in the building. Meanwhile, each gallery is equipped with 1 night-vision device. Essentially, the A-G’s report claimed that emergency exits were also blocked and there is a serious need to review such issues.

The Permanent Collection has until December last year accumulated 3,925 items that include contributions and gifts from art collectors, corporate bodies and foreign embassies which are valued at around RM65million and that if the security features are not upgraded and improved, it might be very damaging in an event of accidents or mishaps.

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